Shots were fired outside a synagogue in Albany, New York, on the first night of Hanukkah, as dozens of children were on the grounds, Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Hochul took to X, formerly Twitter, to announce the Thursday gunfire that rattled Temple Israel in the state capital, saying that a 28-year-old man was in custody and no one was injured. She added during a press conference that the suspect “fired off a round from his shotgun while making threatening statements,” and that at least two dozen preschoolers were on the premises in an early childhood center. The children have since been safely released to their parents.
Antisemitism has been on the rise since Israel advanced into Gaza following Hamas‘ surprise attack on the country. On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. Israeli officials have said that 1,200 people in Israel were killed in Hamas’ attack, according to the Associated Press, while over 17,100 Palestinians have been killed, officials from the health ministry in Gaza said.
In the X thread, Hochul said, “Federal, state, & local law enforcement are investigating & I’ve spoken to the Rabbi, assuring her that the State will do everything in our power to restore the sense of security her community needs.”
Hochul added that she is directing New York’s State Police and National Guard “to be on high alert & increase existing patrols of at-risk sites.”
Newsweek reached out to New York State Police via email and Hochul’s office via online form for comment Thursday evening.
The governor spoke out against antisemitic attacks, which have surged across the world amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is deplorable. New Yorkers stand united against antisemitism, hate, & violence in all forms,” Hochul wrote on X.
She also said, at Thursday’s press conference, that “The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable. Every act, whether it’s verbal or physical—any act of antisemitism is unacceptable.”
The nonprofit StopAntisemitism wrote in an email to Newsweek in response to the shooting in Albany, “It’s sadly all too common for hatred that’s generated online to seep out into reality. It must be the last of its kind; we refuse to tolerate such bigotry and we call for swift justice against the perpetrator. This is a stark reminder of antisemitism’s destructive power, which will persist if we don’t face it head-on.”
Congress has focused its antisemitism efforts on college campuses. On Tuesday, presidents of Harvard, UPenn and MIT testified before a congressional education committee over the rise in antisemitic protests and violence at colleges amid the conflict in the Middle East.
The university leaders received backlash for not taking a stronger stance against condemning Jewish hate speech on their campuses.
During the hearing, New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked Harvard President Claudine Gay the hypothetical question: “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules on bullying and harassment?”
Gay responded, “The rules around bullying and harassment are quite specific and if the context in which that language is used amounts to bullying and harassment, then we take, we take action against it.”
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said of Gay’s testimonies on his X account, “It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country.”
Gay on Wednesday addressed the “confusion” surrounding her testimony, saying in a statement posted on Harvard’s X account: “Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account.”